Wednesday night, at about midnight, my younger daughter pounded on my bedroom door, saying there was an emergency -- that my older daughter was gone.
She "went to bed" at 7pm. At 9:30pm, she crawled out her bedroom window, suitcases in hand - and went to the car of a friend who was waiting on the curb. She stopped at an ATM and took $100 out using an ATM card that was tied to a small inheritance. At 11:30pm, witnesses saw her board a bus headed for Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Waiting at her destination? A 21 year old burnout she met on ConnectionsOnline; a guy without a car, a job, a high school diploma - living with some 30something couple he met on the internet.
She met him two weeks before online.
They spoke on the phone 4 times - totaling under 3 hours. They chatted and IMed online for an undeterminate amount of time.
We raced to the bus terminal (40 minutes away), but missed her by a couple hours - we knew she bought a $177 ticket on Greyhound earlier that evening - but we had no details. We filled in the blanks later.
In order to perpetrate this endeavor, she lied to us to get her laptop on the internet - under the guise of research. We only allowed her online when she asked specifically for it - and she didn't have the password to the router. So, she must've kept the laptop online 24/7.
Of course, we didn't check on her .. because she was a good girl.
We trusted her.
No, I didn't set her IP lease on the router to expire in 2 hours ....
We trusted her.
We didn't monitor her emails anymore....
We trusted her.
After all ... she had NEVER ONCE EXHIBITED BEHAVIOR that would lead us to NOT TRUST HER.
So ... we trusted her.
For the last two weeks, she appeared normal. No behavior issues. No unusual behavior. She was planning her graduation pictures, finalizing her senior year in high school (did I mention, she hasn't graduated high school yet?)
Somewhere in a few day span, this guy got her to jump ship.
She confided certain elements of her escape to my younger daughter - which is the ONLY thing that gave us the information we were able to get. Unfortunately, she was burdened with the choice of her loyalty to her parents or the loyalty to her sister.
She waited too long to tell us; and it was too late.
She took a few clothes, and her own electronic items of value - a Kindle, Nintendo DS and her laptop. She got $100 cash out of the ATM before we killed her account.
She left a note on her bed - saying she would contact us after we had "calmed down" from her escape. Told us how much she loved us and how she knew we wouldn't understand.
Blah blah blah.
Here was an 18 year old girl. Never had a boyfriend. Never been kissed ...
.. getting on a bus from a filthy bus terminal at midnight on a Wednesday to run off to some guy she met on MySpace.
Guess what? High school drop out, runaway - she's 18 which means there is 100% NOTHING WE CAN DO. The police won't help us. The bus station won't tell us anything.
We are completely helpless.
We raised her right. We did everything we could. We gave her skills we thought she would need. We laughed on the couch together watching Judge Judy when she abused the burnout kids that moved in together off a Craigslist ad; the girl knocked up ... her baby's daddy suing her for a cell phone bill.
24 hours ago - my daughter became a statistic.
The good news is - this burnout doesn't look dangerous. We know down to a very small radius where she is - and this guy LOOOOVES to talk on MySpace. Chances are, we'll know more about my daughter's life on mySpace than we OBVIOUSLY did before she ran off. The guy is scum - but I don't see her on a sex slave ship to Burma anytime soon.
This time - we have no choice; we have to let her play this one out on her own. We cut off her money. We know where she went, and how to find her - and the great guy she ran off to.
I don't know what else to say - other than:
DO NOT BE FOOLED. It doesn't matter how good your kids are. It doesn't matter how good of a parent you are. Things can change on a dime - and your kid vanishes in the still of the night.
Don't let your kids run unsupervised. MONITOR. WATCH. RESTRICT. For christ's sake - don't let them on social networking sites. I've been preaching how horrible these sites are - and my own kid became a victim of it.
IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU AND THE ONES YOU LOVE.
All I can do is hope the next time we see her, she isn't pregnant, infected with AIDS or coming home in a body bag.